Archive for November, 2008

November 18th, 2008

Plymouth Rocks

Simon Ford, Plymouth Gin-Eastern Standard dinnerThis is the time of year when every culinary scribe in the nation chips in to solve a seemingly widespread problem: What to Drink with Thanksgiving Dinner. Wine writers have made pinot noir a standard tipple to pair with turkey and stuffing. Beer writers are making inroads with the argument that, actually, craft brews offer way more variety for Thanksgiving pairings than wine. Historical purists would advocate drinking water, as that is likely all the Pilgrims had on hand during their 1621 feast with the Wampanoag Indians. I don’t know if hosts are really in as much agony over what to serve with gravy-soaked root vegetables as they’re made out to be, but if they are, I have an easy answer: Plymouth Gin.

Unlike, say, wine, Plymouth Gin actually has a connection to the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony. The Mayflower set sail from the original Plymouth, in England. Not only that, the night before they left for the New World, the Pilgrim Fathers lodged in a former monastery dating from the 1400s that is today known as Black Friars Distillery, a.k.a. the producer of Plymouth Gin. The ship that appears on the gin’s label? Yep, it’s the Mayflower.

Coriander venison chop Eastern StandardI learned all this on a little junket I attended recently: a dinner in Eastern Standard‘s private dining room with Plymouth’s brand ambassador, British drinks expert Simon Ford. (For the record, I was a devotée of this crisp, balanced gin before the company plied me with product.) This was a multi-course Thanksgiving of sorts that paired Plymouth Gin-based cocktails with dishes that featured some of the botanicals used in distilling the spirit. Kevin Martin led the Eastern Standard bar staff in mixing up French 75s, Alaskas and Gin Flips, among others. Dishes included a coriander-crusted venison chop, rabbit terrine with juniper berries, and cardamom tapioca pudding. And, believe it or not, before dinner we were given a steamed towel scented with orris root. Fancy!

Kevin Martin, Eastern Standard-Plymouth Gin dinnerReps from the Pernod Ricard company, which owns the Plymouth brand, informed me that Boston is a hot market for this gin. Given that every bar doing classic cocktails stocks the stuff (thanks largely to the pioneering B-Side Lounge), I’m not surprised.

Fun facts about Plymouth gin:

  • Not long after it was first distilled in 1793, Plymouth Gin became the official gin of the British Royal Navy. And because the navy shipped it everywhere, it became one of the first global brands.
  • Black Friars Distillery is the oldest working distillery in England, with records of spirit-making dating to the 1600s.
  • Like Scotch whiskey and Cheddar cheese, Plymouth Gin has its own appellation contrôlée, which means the spirit can only be distilled in Plymouth.
  • The pot still in which every drop of Plymouth Gin is made was installed in 1850.
  • In 1896 the first printed recipe for a Dry Martini, in Stuart’s Fancy Drinks and How to Mix Them, specified Plymouth Gin.

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Posted in Cocktails, Gin | 19 Comments »

November 13th, 2008

Bartenders on the move

Boston bartenders on the move

A reader named Daniel emailed me recently asking what I knew of recent “bartender movement” around Boston, including what has become of the crew at the B-Side. Timely question, Daniel, because Boston drink-slingers are engaged in a lively round of musical bars right now.

Let’s start with the crew at the B-Side, which, it turns out, will not be opening again under new ownership as I wrote earlier. The lounge on the corner of Hampshire and Windsor in Cambridge is officially in limbo. Sad. From what I’ve heard, among the principal bartenders left standing when the place closed, Dave Cagle is heading to Deep Ellum, Al Harding is at the new-and-improved Cafe Marliave (along with ex-B-Siders Jackie Ross and Christopher Duggan, who’s also occasionally at the Indo), Russ is at the Beehive, and Rob … I totally forget where Rob’s going (update forthcoming). While I’m on the subject, the B-Side’s swan song, last Sunday, was an evening of fun insanity, with customers doing their damnedest to drain the place of every last ounce of liquor, and most of the above B-Side alums — plus Joe McGuirk and Claudia Mastrobuono, both now at Highland Kitchen — stepping behind the bar to help out.

As for the other bars with personnel in flux … Misty Kalkofen is moving from Green Street to Drink. That means Drink will now boast a ridiculous roster of talent including Kalkofen, John Gertsen, Ben Sandrof and Josey Packard, among others. Meanwhile, as Daniel informed me, Green Street has lured Emily of Deep Ellum across the river. She joins Andy McNees (formerly of Bukowski and Eastern Standard) and Bice (formerly of B-Side, Deep Ellum, etc.). Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli, who earned renown at Eastern Standard, is now boss of the bar at chef Tony Maws’ new place, Craigie on Main, which is scheduled to open this Friday.

I know I’m missing a few other significant moves, here. I’ll post updates when I get them, along with reviews of Boston’s new star bars Drink, Cafe Marliave and Craigie on Main. In the meantime, best of luck to all you ‘tenders in your new gigs.

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Posted in Bartenders, Boston bars | 14 Comments »

November 8th, 2008

Party like it’s 1944

Marlene Dietrich at a USO showIf you were reading drinkboston around this time last year, you may recall the post I wrote about one of the most fun parties ever: the LUPEC Boston Tea Party. The Boston chapter of LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails) took over a riverboat docked near the North End and turned it into a 1920s speakeasy, with vintage cocktails and music, oysters and appetizers from some of Boston’s best chefs, and a bunch of festive people in period dress. The party, along with the This One’s for the Ladies cocktail promotion at area bars, raised $10,000 for Jane Doe, Inc.

On Friday, November 21 (7-11 p.m.), the ladies are doing it all again — 1940s-style — with their second annual fundraising bash, the LUPEC Boston USO Show. This time, we’re taking over a larger, land-based venue, the Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center (85 W. Newton St., South End, Boston), for a party inspired by the USO variety shows that entertained American troops during WWII. Rest assured, like the USO shows, the party is coed.

Entertainment will include swing music spun by DJ Brother Cleve, the burlesque comediennes Two Girls for Five Bucks, a Bob Hope impersonator (Boston comedian-actor Harry Gordon) and the Boston Derby Dames, who will skate around serving chocolates.

Vintage libations, like the classic rum-and-lime daiquiri (one of WWII veteran JFK’s fave cocktails), will be served by some of Boston’s best bartenders, and oysters and apps will again come from some of the city’s culinary stars.

Scour your local vintage clothing shops for 1940s-era attire, and do not — I repeat, DO NOT — miss this party. Unless you hate having fun.

This year’s proceeds from This One’s for the Ladies and the USO Show will benefit women at the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans. Tix are $35 ($45 at the door) and include four cocktails and all the eats. And you can buy them online this year at (includes a service charge) or in person at Grand, Toro or Tremont 647. Lots more details on the USO Show and This One’s for the Ladies are available on the LUPEC Boston blog. Hope to see you there!

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Posted in Cocktails, Events | No Comments »

November 5th, 2008

Celebrating our new prez

Election 2008 - Obama in the crowd

At 11:00 p.m. last night at the Independent, it was like the Red Sox finally winning the World Series, only with more crying.

Holy crap, we just witnessed a turning point in American history. That happens, like, once or twice in a lifetime. And despite an assembly line of Ward Eights at the beginning of the evening, and shots of rye passed around after Obama gave his acceptance speech (man, is that guy steady), my memories of Election Night ’08 are clearly branded on my brain. Here are some photos from the drinkboston-Indo party celebrating the end — the new beginning, actually — of a two-year political saga.

Election 2008 - taps and Ohio

CNN’s Dana Bash calls Ohio for Obama.

Election 2008 - Zack Hickman

Partygoer Zack Hickman won a $25 Indo gift certificate for Best Election Night Getup.

Election 2008 - happy people

The crowd is stirred as the winner is announced. That tall guy in the back looks familiar.

Election 2008 - TV says Obama wins

Barack Obama is announced President-Elect. Much cheering, toasting, hugging, crying. The DJ plays “Don’t Stop Believin’,” and people laugh and sing along.

We wish you luck, Mr. President.

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Posted in Events, Whiskey | No Comments »

November 4th, 2008

Drinking with the presidents

Washington D.C.’s historic Round Robin Bar is, according to this article, serving a special presidential cocktail menu from election day through the presidential inauguration. The menu features beverages — both alcoholic and non-alcoholic — anecdotally linked to each chief executive. Like: rye whiskey, straight, for Andrew Jackson; a Beefeater martini up with olives for JFK; and Diet Coke with lemon for W. Also featured: a Ward Eight for Theodore Roosevelt, which the Round Robin describes as a “politically-charged concoction, brought to D.C. by ‘Big Stick’ Republicans from New York.” OK, so the homework here is a little sloppy. Still, it’s a fun concept. Well, except for what the bar concocted for our forthcoming president:

“Depending on the outcome of the upcoming election, one libation [was created] for each of the two candidates for the 44th presidency of the United States:

“John McCain — Belvedere vodka, on the rocks, a straightforward, clean and refreshing bracer.

“Barack Obama — Obama shake, flavored vodka, fresh fruit and cream, steady and smooth, served tall and cool.”

Surely, they could’ve come up with ideas a little less lame?

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Posted in Booze in the news | 2 Comments »

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